Tourism Review News Desk - Feb 23, 2009
New president’s comments do harm to Las Vegas business tourism. Famous sin city needs to restore its image and demands Obama’s apology.

President Obama has been making the headlines in recent months for a number of reasons, most of which have been met with nothing more than praise and adulation. However, Oscar Goodman, the mayor of Las Vegas, has come out to demand an apology from the recently elected American president because of his comments about the city itself.

In Indiana Obama went on record saying that one should not go to Las Vegas at the cost of taxpayers: "You can"t get corporate jets, you can"t go take a trip to Las Vegas or go down to the Super Bowl on the taxpayer"s dime." This comment was directed at companies receiving a federal bailout yet has, so far, done a lot of harm to Las Vegas’s reputation. This issue has raised serious doubts in the business world about whether corporate events should be held there, especially if the president hints that Las Vegas is just a hedonist paradise full of slot machines and nightlife.

On the face of it, Las Vegas seems the perfect place for corporate events to take place. It has a total of 140.000 hotel rooms available at very low rates and the possibilities for dining and entertainment seem endless. However, the president’s words have almost nullified these advantages.

For example, the Goldman Sachs Group Inc. recently paid a $600.000 cancellation fee to move their event from Las Vegas to San Francisco. It seemed to them better to pay the money than to risk the embarrassment of hosting an event in a gambling haven. Las Vegas has, understandably, responded by demanding an apology from Obama and by launching a six-figure advertising campaign to put its business tourism back on the map. There remains the hope that Obama’s words will not be as serious as some dread.

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  1. Pres. Obama DID get it right in concept -- and not just about Vegas. Just like many cities, Las Vegas has lots to offer meetings & conventions; meetings and conventions bring to Vegas and all of Nevada needed revenue for schools and infrastructure. The problem is that too many cities and facilities want to showcase the fun w/o showing (via marketing) how content-rich meetings can be held and can benefit all. Our industry needed this wake-up call to begin to train sales, marketing and service folks about how to consult to clients in areas of meeting design. We needed this wake-up to market smartly. Now .. will we or will we only demand apologies? (Destinations & hotels: make sure your sales folks attend sessions at industry meetings v. just exhibiting and hanging out at the bar.)

  2. Las Vegas attracts the top 35+ conventions in the US and about 8 million conventioneers. Vegas has 140,000 rooms with a further 15,000 under construction. The cost of a reasonable room is as low as $70 with a choice of over 2,000 restaurants. In addition you have fantastic entertainment, that you can't see anywhere in the world!! You can visit Las Vegas on a "budget" or be indulgent, the choice is yours.

    The choice of Goldman Sachs to forgo their $600,000 deposit and then have the same meeting in San Fransisco, where the room rates exceeded $200 per night is highly questionable?

    Vegas is a city that attracts 40 million visitors to which 4 million are international. The United States needs Vegas.


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